First came the game-changer. A potential season-changer followed.
Just what the Riverhead High School softball team needed.
Brianne McKay’s two-run double broke open a scoreless game for the Blue Waves. That, along with Logan Carey’s strong pitching performance, paved the way to a 4-2 upset of a tough Bay Shore team Saturday morning at Riverhead High School. With the result, Riverhead completed the first half of the season with 3-5 record, overall and in Suffolk County League II. Amid the Blue Waves’ postgame joy was a clear understanding of the huge difference between a 3-5 record and 2-6. A .500 league record automatically qualifies teams for the playoffs.
“Today is a win that could turn our season around,” said coach Chris Accardi, calling it Riverhead’s biggest win of the season to date. “There’s no question about it, and I think it will.”
Bay Shore, which began the day in a three-way tie for second place with Lindenhurst and Northport, dropped to 6-5, 5-3.
Coach Jackie Pasquerella’s Marauders are to be respected. “You were going against some of the best players on Long Island,” Accardi said. “The girls knew what they were up against.”
Bay Shore’s Makali Gates and Riverhead’s Carey engaged in a pitcher’s duel. Riverhead needed a break and got a couple of them in the fourth inning when a pair of errors allowed Megan McKay and Kaleigh Seal to reach base. With runners at the corners and two outs, it was Brianne McKay’s turn in the batter’s box.
“I was very nervous in the beginning,” Brianne McKay said. “But then I got up there and took a deep breath, and I was like, ‘OK, I got this.’ ”
Carey, a senior righthander supported by errorless defense, said, “This was a really big win because we’ve been close in every single game and we were always struggling to get that one hit that would just put us in the winning spot, and today we just proved that we can have that one big hit.”
That big hit came off Brianne McKay’s bat. She belted a booming double over centerfielder Emma Lacetera for a 2-0 lead.
Riverhead tacked on two more runs the following inning, courtesy of Carey’s run-scoring single and Megan McKay’s RBI bunt single. That rally started when Kaysee Mojo was hit on her left leg by a pitch.
Bay Shore made things interesting with a two-out, two-run rally in the seventh. In successive at-bats, Alyssa Juliano walked, Lacetera clubbed an RBI double over leftfielder Megan McKay and then scored herself on Caroline Hobbes’ soft liner. With Hobbes on second base, Carey induced Makayla Quinn to ground out to second baseman Jessica Columbus, ending it.
“This was a must-win for us, and they responded,” Accardi said. “It would have been a huge mountain to climb [had Riverhead lost], especially in the league that we’re in, but they responded. They really did, all of them.”
Kendal Kwasna, one of Riverhead’s seven seniors (a group that includes Lauren Kruger, Jadyn Polak and Issabella Williams), had one of Riverhead’s four hits.
Kaelyn Pellman and Lacetera each went 2-for-3 with a double for Bay Shore. The Marauders went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Carey said her screwball was “really good today. We were going in and out with it.”
With assistant coach Kate DeVinney calling the pitches, Carey scattered seven hits over seven innings. She allowed two earned runs, one walk and struck out three.
“It was one of the best games I’ve thrown, especially for high school,” Carey said. She added, “I’ll always remember this game.”
Gates tossed a four-hitter, with four strikeouts over six innings. She didn’t issue a walk.
Word of Riverhead’s big win undoubtedly was going to spread fast.
“I guarantee you,” Accardi said, “I’ll turn my phone on. I’ll have 10 texts by the time I get home from coaches and players.”